Anyone who knows me well, will know that I have always liked a drink. Whether that’s a chilled wine, pint of cider, gin and tonic or a large Baileys at Christmas, booze has been an integral part of my life, and that of most of my friends since we were 14. What started with village hall parties (oi oi!) necking Lambrini and strawberry 20/20 (vom), graduated to alcopops and vodka & orange in generic Yates that accepted forged birth certificates as valid forms of ID (who were we kidding?!). Then came Uni, and with that the endless pub crawls, raves and house parties that took place over the 4 years I was there. Our shared house of 6 girls was notorious for some hardcore partying, and we regularly turned our empty basement into a dance floor, complete with decks and strobe light to enhance our ‘quiet’ nights in. Post-uni and living in Camden, it was all bustling pubs and gigs, ‘Pissed Tuesdays’ after work putting the world to rights with friends, and Friday night bevvies with colleagues, ‘unwinding’ from a hectic week working in The City. All of this interspersed with a plethora of boozy occasions, celebrating all manner of events occurring within our crowd- birthdays, promotions, break-ups, redundancies, the start of a new series of Mad Men etc etc. Holidays abroad with friends were one big binge, we needed a holiday to get over them. You get the picture- booze featured in almost every event going. I was having ‘fun’, there’s no doubt about that, but I was also unhealthy, felt like crap half the time, unmotivated and essentially not fulfilling my potential in any way, shape or form.
Adam had a calming influence, and when pregnancy and babies arrived on the scene, it was easy to stop for those 9 months each time. No one had any expectations of me socially, and whilst I had no trouble in laying off the vino, there was always the naive notion that once junior had arrived, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be back on the sauce, carrying on normal life (ha!) and keeping up with my child-free/care-free friends and our old lives. To a certain extent I have maintained a very good social life post-children. I still go out usually once a week with my friends, and Adam and I are lucky that we have fantastic grandparents that live locally to us, and who enable us to go out a fair bit together. Even if we haven’t been out and about, we have chums over to ours, and I in particular have still enjoyed getting stuck in to the Sauvignon Blanc. It’s always been a ritual since having the kids, that cliche of ‘wine o’clock’ once they are in bed, or earlier, if you’ve been having a particularly crap day. Friday and Saturday night are licence to drink more, even if it is just you, Simon and Chezza on the telly for company. You only have to glance at your Facebook feed to see other people doing the same. Parents or not parents, alcohol seems to feature heavily (well it apparently does with the people that I know!). Statuses shriek “Bad day already with kids- is it wine time yet?!” or “L has just puked all over me” cue responses of “pour yourself a large one tonight, hun!”.
Whilst I have certainly cut down hugely in comparison to my old days (thinking about what I used to drink makes me feel queezy now!), something is telling me alcohol is no longer agreeing with me, and is stopping me from feeling good and fulfilling things I want to do with my life. So why not just have a glass of wine a few nights a week? You may well ask. If you have never been a big drinker and are therefore probably fairly sensible when it comes to moderating, you may think all I’ve written above is rather odd, or if you enjoy a few tipples guilt-free, you don’t see why anyone would quit. Well, me, I’m just not very good at just having the one or two drinks once I’ve started. I am certainly no alcoholic, but I have tendencies to go slightly doolally on the wrong occasion once I’ve had a sniff on the white stuff (not THAT white stuff, you naughty people!). I might be able to have a few weeks of having one or two drinks at home, or when out for dinner, but inevitably as past history has shown, I will eventually get a bit over-excited, and embark on some sizeable quaffing, that will make feel like death and leave me with the mother of all hangovers. Sadly I am no longer my 17 year old self who can still spring in to action the night after a big night out- these days it takes me the best part of a week to get over it. SO impracticable as a parent of a ‘lively’ 2 and 3 year old.
On days when I’ve been hungover, I am literally counting the hours down until bedtime when the children will be asleep, and I am grumpy and snappy. This is ultimately not fair on them, and no way to live. Even one night of boozing a week will set me back. I want to focus on being a good Mum, working on my little business and this blog, maintain a fitness regime and look after myself. The latter is something I haven’t achieved since I was about 14, as despite having various gym memberships and forays to the boxing gym, my hangovers always got in the way of any real progress or ability to commit to a fitness event/run. I’m sure I could have done better at uni and in past careers, if I hadn’t had been so attached to the pub.
I had 3 months back in 2007 where I decided to swap the rose for water, and it did me the world of good, but after the 3 months was up I still slipped back into my old ways. It was always just a break, I was still counting down the days until I could sup on the sauce again. There was no real commitment to any long-term lifestyle shift.
Well that is about to change, for good this time (old friends of mine might be giving themselves a wry smile if they’re reading this!), as I am about to make a commitment I’ve never publicly said before:
I am going to quit booze for a year.
A WHOLE year.
And see what happens.
That means that any birthdays, holidays, weekends away, dinners out, hen dos (including mine!), MY WEDDING (gulp) and anything else that life throws my way will be conducted in a sober manner. I am sick of feeling jaded and firing on half-cylinders after any of the aforementioned events.
However, I don’t want this to be all doom and gloom. I want to learn to socialise and enjoy life again, without the crutch of the wine bottle (I am still going to be on that Karaoke machine, goddammit!).
I want to feel fresh and productive EVERY DAY, no longer clock-watching until bedtime. I want a fitter, healthier, more toned body (which, let’s face it, needs all the help it can get now I’m 30 and after 2 children!).
I want a sharper, clearer mind. I want to be a better, more thoughtful mother, daughter, partner, sister, friend, one who isn’t too hungover to text back, or think straight. I would like some hobbies again, to find new interests. The last course I embarked on was a French evening course at the local college several years ago, but I quit because it clashed with those ‘pissed Tuesdays’ too often (I am SO embarrassed to even write that now!).
I don’t want to worry about what took place the night before under the influence. Did I say something bad? Was I a twat? Trust me, the beer-fear doesn’t get better as you get older. Anxiety, which was never something on my radar previously, has crept it at an alarming rate the day after a big sesh, and leaves me not wanting to even leave the house. BritMums in June was a case in point- the lure of the free wine stand (Oh Lindemans, what did you do to me?!) made Friday jovial, but the next day the paranoia and feeling rough made me not want to socialise with anyone, ruined the sessions for me and I legged it home early without saying goodbye to new friends. NOT cool, and so not the sort of person I want to be.
So why blog about this?
I don’t want to get all preachy about losing the booze. Drinking IS fun, otherwise we wouldn’t do it, and I think I will always be wistful about those first couple of drinks in a sunny pub beer garden, surrounded by friends and laughter. I get that most people are perfectly happy with the amount they do or do not imbibe (lucky buggers!). I guess it will help me knuckle down and make a commitment to er, my commitment. I think it will be a challenge, a new adventure, and I do rather enjoy those ;-) By blogging about ditching the booze I may help someone who’s been in a similar situation to me. You don’t have to be pouring voddy on your cornflakes in the morning to realise you and alcohol are no longer a match made in heaven, and this may encourage someone like me to also take the leap into the unknown. I will keep updating regularly about how I’m getting on, and whilst I’m sure I will find it tricky at times, I’m optimistic that for me personally, it will only be a positive thing in my life.
So if you bump into me, please don’t think me boring now- I still like a good time and a night out! I can still provide a good line in bad jokes and will fire off the Sugar Hill Gang rap on cue. Just make mine a lime and soda (sans the vodka, natch), or a good cuppa (milk, please, no sugar). Your support will be very much appreciated.
Let’s do this!
pic above taken last year, with a glass of wine the size of my head!
Teaming up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share with me!